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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 24, 2011 10:00am-11:00am EDT

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he on the true blood the series or the blueblood series, or the vampire academy series, you know, vampire diaries i think is another one. in some ways that was a little too much for me. the only regret i have about not talk about that part is i wasn't able to talk about buffy, the vampires are which is the most awesome show ever. i would point out in some ways represents the exception to the vampire canon because the vampires in those movies always do try to take over the world. so in some sense that's more consistent with the zombie story. there are a few other vampire movies that function kind of like the zombies genre. ..
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>> discussing how different international relations models will hold up against as of the attack. you can find out more by visiting his website. in nonfiction offer what you would like to see featured on book tv? send us an e-mail at book tv at c-span.org or treat us. >> now on book tv, brian christian looks at the state of artificial intelligence today
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and reports on the annual loebner prize event where the turing test event is a master to the most advanced computer programs in the world. about 50 minutes. at back. [applause] >> thanks so much to elliott bay for having me. i live in seattle for the last four years, and so this is my neighborhood. thanks to you guys for coming out. so, the book really tells two stories. the first story is about how the computer plays into this really longstanding philosophical narrative which is that humans have always been sort of obsessed and fascinated with
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their unique place in creation. what is it that makes us different and special and unique? and to answer this question we have typically to be correct to aristotle and plato, we have typically tried to export yourself against animals. so what i think is so interesting about the 21st century is that the benchmark that we are using to figure out who we are has changed. much more interested in our relationship to machines then and relationship to other animals. it's changing the way that we think of ourselves. and the other story is a much more personal one which is that i got to be a part of one of the artificial intelligence community's main competition which is this contest called the loebner prize. and so i was essentially part of the human defense. and so i found myself in a very
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strange position. so the book opens in the fall of 2009. i'm in brighton, england. having this very strange feeling of a half on 500 miles from seattle to bright and just to have several five matt want instant message conversations. it seems a bit like overkill. michael, probably one of the strangest things i've ever been asked to do which is that i have to convince the panel of scientists that i'm a human. they are going to be somewhat skeptical. so this is all part of what is called the turing test. so the computer science pioneer back in the 1950 as a computer was just in its infancy was already asking these relief philosophical questions.
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can machines think? are the intelligent and a human since? would it be possible some day to design a machine that actually could think? if we did, how would we know to back and so what he decides to do is just put philosophy of to the side and say, on guard to take a practical test. rearguard to hold this tustin have our answer. the way it works is that you convene a panel of scientists. they are having these five men long textual chat conversations sending messages back and forth. but they don't know is whether the messages that are coming back to them are from a human being or from a computer program claiming to be a human being. and it is there job over five minutes to figure. so his famous prediction was that by the year 2000 computers will be filling us about 30 percent of the time. as a result we would, as he puts it, be able to speak of machines
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thinking without expect to be contradicted. this prediction did not come true. even at your 2,000 the top pay our programs were may be fooling the judge is once a year if there were lucky. and so i years really perked up in the year 2008 when the top computer programmer at this annual competition managed to fool three out of the 12 judges or 25%, meaning that it must just one vote shy of passing this threshold and passing the turing test. so it was a narrow save, neyra scrape for homeless sapiens. so i had this feeling of, well, maybe that means that 2009 is going to be the pivotal year where machines finally crossed that mark. the feeling that i immediately started to have was, not on my
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watch. so i wanted to see if there was something i could do to come to the aid of my fellow humans. and so i've tried to get in touch with the organizing committee. so i should say that the with the contest is run, everyone who participates, whether you are a piece of software or person gets the score, and the score represents how confident the judges were that they were talking to a real person. so every year there is a computer that gets the highest score which blends a research grant for the program are and then at an award called the most human computer aboard. the award that the contest is based on and the one with all the scientific detection. the strange thing is that there is also an award that goes to the real person who did the best
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job of persuading the judges there were talking to a real person which is called "most human human award." and so i immediately became fascinated with what exactly is this award of about. it and as i've read back over the history of previous winners, one of the winners in 1994, one of the very first, was the science fiction author charles platt. when asked, how did you do it? how did you prove yourself more human than the other people in the contest he said, well, it was easy. i was moody, irritable, and obnoxious. everyone else was mild mannered and polite. so i stood out. and to me that was hilarious but also bleak. and at some level also this call to arms. okay. how do we be as human as we can be under the constraints of the
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turing test? how does that translate to life? does it? so i got in touch with the organizing committee of this test. i started at the top by reaching the grandeur of the award himself. he is an eccentric millionaire who made his fortune in new jersey selling plastic portable roll up like to disco dance force in the 1980's. he decided at some point that part of what he wanted to do with his fortune was immortalized himself into the annals of science. also as i asked him, very excited about the day when computers to all of our work for us. and so he sets laziness as one of his main motivations for funding this price. but really before i knew it i
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made the case for why i wanted to be part of the human confederates team. before i knew it by name was on the roster. i was in this position of, okay, and six months of going to be one of the four actual people trying to take a stand against these machines passing the test. what am i going to do exactly? and the organizers advice to me was pretty much what i have been told to expect it was well, you are human so it just be yourself. and those words sort of haunted me, just be yourself. i kept having this feeling that, you know, it represented, perhaps, a naive overconfidence in human instinct or at worst actually fixing the fight. the ai programs that we are going up against are in many cases the result of decades of work.
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so are we. but the programmers to write these programs have done tremendous analysis on the past conversations. they know which conversational rounds will lead to deep exchange in which one fizzle out. they know how to steer the conversation toward the strength of their program and how to avoid its weaknesses. and we all know intuitively that not all conversations are uniformly successful. there is a huge demand in our society for dating advice, a conversation coaches, conflict resolution because seminars, all these banks that suggest paradoxically that communication is both our species greatest card to strength and the place with the greatest room for improvement. and certainly that is what i felt and i read the 2008 transcripts. the humans are downright apologetic. they can't might better
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conversation. one says, i feel really bad that you must be retired up talking about the weather. another says the glee, i'm sorry for being so banal. meanwhile, the computer in the other window is charming the pants off the judge to in a time as gushing l auriol's and smiley faces. and so my feeling was, we can do better. now, ordinarily -- a cake. so i must say my intention was to be as early disobedient to the organizers instructions to just go to britain and be myself as i possibly could. i went back over the history of the test complected which conversations went sour and tried to figure out why. i studied the way that the software programs are composed and what simplifications of human composition they have to make in order to be viable so i could play up precisely those
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things. and i talked to psychologists and linguists and computer scientists. what are the things and let him in conversation that are hard to do on computers? now, ordinarily there wouldn't be anything strange about this. we trained for tennis tournaments. we cram for exams. given that the turing test is meant to evaluate how a human hand, there is something odd about this. it suggests that, you know, being human or being myself is more than just showing up. and so for me one of the interesting lessons was that it sort of is. and looking at these software mimics of conversation help me to get a sense of that. so before i get into that i feel that i should read a strange and more than slightly ironic cautionary tale dr. robert
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epstein, the uc san diego psychologist, editor of the scientific volume parsing the turing test and co-founder of the loebner prize to subscribe to an on-line dating service in the winter of 2007. he began writing long love letters to a russian woman band of, who would respond with on letters of her on the scrubbing her family, daily life, and her growing feelings for a stand. eventually, though, something did not feel quite right. long story short, acting altman the realized he had been exchanging lengthy love letters for over four months with, you guessed it, a computer program. >> reporter. if it wasn't enough that web ruffians spanned is in no box every day, that they have to spend his heart. on the one hand of want to simply laugh at the guy. he sounded -- founded the
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loebner prize turing test. what a job. then again i am also sympathetic. the unavoidable presence of the nl spam in the 21st century not only clogs the in boxes and bad debts of the world. for example, roughly 90% of all in help messages are spam. you're talking tens of billions a day. he could literally power a small nation with the amount of electricity used to process the world's daily spam. but all of that does something arguably worse. it erodes our sense of trust. i hate that when i get in emphasis from my friends i have to expand a modicum of energy at least for the first few words deciding if i think it's really them riding. we get through to the life of our guards up. akia indication is a turing
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test. all communication is suspect. that is the pessimistic version. here is the optimistic one. epstein learned the lesson. was that lesson a lot more complicated than trying to start an on-line relationship with someone? that was a dumb idea. , would like to think at least there will have a lot of thinking to do about why it took him four months to realize there was no actual exchange occurring between him. in the future he will be quicker to the real thing and exchange draw. as a result his next confront who hopefully is not only a bonafide who was a pen, but if you're the 11 time zones away. it may have a sauna in this very strange way to thank. so, to help understand some of his anxiety about hemans relationships to computers, it
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is worth pointing out that up until the 1950's computers used to get the human. so, back before the word computer was a reference to the mechanical digital the vice that proliferates on our desk and in our pants pockets and things, it meant something else which was that it was a job description. computers frequently female work in groups for research laboratories and corporations in the military. groups of computers are behind everything from the first calculations of haley's comet to the atomic bomb project. and so engineers and computers fell in love all the time. and, in fact, it's very strange. if you look back at these early
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papers and computer science before anyone knew what these gizmos or to listen to people like touring having to explain for the first time to his audience what he's talking about. and so what they say is, well, you can imagine that this digital thing is kind of like a computer. what they mean is it is kind of like someone who does math for a living. and so what i find so strange is that living in the 21st century, it is the human math whiz that is like a computer. so, the mechanical version has not only become the default term, but actually has supplanted the original as being the literal. we are now like computers and they used to be like us. it is this strange come to rest. we now annotate our old imitators. the harvard psychologist daniel
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gilbert says every psychologist must at some point at his or her career write a version of what he calls this sentence. specifically the sentence which is always capitalized reflect this. the human being is the only animal that blank. and so the history of human sense of self is, you might say, the history of these failed debug versions of the sentence. the twist now is that it is not really the animals that we are so concerned with. if you go back and read aristotle and descartes, they are really interested in trying to prove that we have souls and monkeys and dogs and wolves don't. so they say things like, well, okay. walls can run through the jungle and avoid falling logs and hunt prey and form social groups and recognize their friends.
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that is obviously very easy to do. we are capable of them is like long division and remembering facts. [laughter] ended the existence of the computer, i think, takes some of the wind out of that argument. in fact, we have seen exactly the opposite which is that these very rigid logical step by step things like doing long division and factoring large numbers are, in fact, quite simple as long as you apply the method. things like recognizing your mother are extremely complicated, and we are still developing systems to do it. the newest version of i photo just released their face recognition software, and it is a cafe. so meanwhile, you know, we have been playing grand master chess for a decade. all these really counter intuitive results are coming back to us. some of what we thought was
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billy easy is actually a really hard. but we thought was really hard is actually been the easy. at think what is really fascinating about the turing test in particular is that it really cuts both ways. so there is a philosopher at oxford and john lucas. he says when machine is finally passed the turing test it will not be because there are so intelligent but because we are so wooden that it will be an indictment on our conversation of skills rather than a testament to machine technology. and so all these questions are swirling in my head as i try to get back to this central issue. i'm going to brighton to defend by species. what am i going to say? and for me a look back at the way that some of these programs are built stars suggest a couple of different options.
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specifically, people who write software that compete for the katie generally have to make one major trade-off which is, are they going to compose ahead of time everything that the program is going to say and give it this very defined character and personality and voice? the trade off with that is that you find there is a very limited range of stuff your program can say. it gets very awkward if you try to push out of that a rigidly defined structured. he see a lot of programs that have extremely well thought out opinions about the second term of bill clinton. the judge -- to which one of these, as the judge replies, that's interesting. i really like pancakes. what to you think of that? it just keeps telling about bill clinton. the trade-off that you make if you go the other direction, so
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around the 90's and the first ticket of the century this of the paradigm emerged for how to create a chat bought which was basically to turn it loose on to the internet and have it simply observe what people say to it. you can almost imagine this martian landing on the earth and someone coming up and sank high. play at this giant rolodex. humans often begin conversations by saying high. interesting. then the martian walks down the street and incomes up to someone and says, hi. and that person says hey, what's up. it goes, and humans often say, hey, what's up, when you say hi. and in this very painstaking process but over the course of in many cases decades of just hanging out on line waiting for people to, you know, across its path it builds this massive database of real stuff the
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people say. you find in you interact with the software this very uncanny ability to respond to all sorts of things. i attempted to see if it would reply to me if i spoke in french. i found by french was not only understood, but corrected. sort of at condescendingly told me that grammatically correct version of the sentence that i had given it. and you often find if you tried to have given it song lyrics it will swing back to you. i had a conversation where i started typing and lyrics from bohemian rhapsody. i said. the cover bob replied will you do to defend a new. there is something truly. but a program that can do this to hit but part of what you plan
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does interact with these programs, it is not so much that you are not talking to a human as the you are not talking to a human. that turns out to be a critical distinction. if you ask the questions to which there is a correct answer it will generally have that answer. if you stuck to ask questions about itself you get this very strange sense that you're talking to several thousand people that are being quickly settled in and out. and this was what i discovered when i started to ask clever bought about its love life. so i say, do you have a boyfriend. not at the moment, but i hope to find one sent. adventure, i would like to be your bahut -- i would like to be your the forefront.
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that's a happily married. his check its. do you have a boyfriend? now, i'm still looking for love. to you have a husband he attack ad down because it would be illegal since i'm a whole. but a. with its legendary you? the milk. once it hit the key of a team of of, not at the moment, but i live in hope. kith can i be your boyfriend? no, mr. it. so the other thing you have to keep in mind, you are up against several million prior
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conversations. in fact, it becomes one of the main challenges, trying to figure out how to depart from everything that has been said in 10 million previous conversations. as long as you stay within the giant database that it has it is : to have some response, maybe not internally consistent, but it is going to have some response. the objective is to push out of that and leave it to of a stranded. in fact, this is a very similar problem to what happens in game theory. if you like it grand master chess players are expert checkers players, every board starts in the exact same configuration. so there are only so many original movements that you can make. so if, you know, 10 million cans of chaff have started in position one, you know, you make your first choice. there are still a quarter of comedy games it had been played in the position. one of the big challenges is how
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to get into a completely new position and to get your opponent actually thinking rather than simply remembering standard wisdom. so one of the stories until in the book is the day that checkers died which was an 1863 in glasgow, scotland checker's died. this was the world championship checkers match between james wiley and robert martin. they were scheduled to have a 40 game series over the span of about two months. the outcome was zero winds, 40 jobs and zero losses on both sides. in fact, 21 out of the 40 games they played for the same game move by move. the cave had gone to this point where there was such a giant pool of collective checkers was
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to, and the players were sort of reluctant with the stakes that high to play an inferior moved to stick it the other person out of books. that they didn't. they played the book 21 times. the sponsors were extremely displeased. no one, of course, knew who to give the world title to. part of the challenge for the checkers community is to john -- figure out how to keep the game worth playing. so the real strategy basically is, if you go like the weight check if players are up and began open the game for them. that is what happened in top-level checkers plight. i don't know if you guys have been following that. ever since they can 80's they had been mandating the first few moves of the game so that the two players will sit down and literally draw buyers out of a
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hat. you have to do that. okay. now you can actually sent the game. this becomes a way to salvage it. force people back into a position where they have to do original thinking. you see the same thing when you go up against cover pot. how do you rinse the conversation into this totally original place where it has not encountered the subject matter? for me that was part of the talents. the first in the judge said to me was, hi, how's it going. i said, no, we are in book. this is what every conversation begins with. your fooled when you realize that there are going to be douses of entries. so i think that is part of the challenge of him in conversation, get out a book in that same way. you sit down over coffee with an
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old friend and say, how's it going. no, good. how's it going with you. the goal is to figure out, you have this template conversation which is the standard questions and the standard answers. you have to figure out how to break that ended it into this totally fresh think where you are actually thinking again and responding freshly. and so in many ways the question of how to the wind at the turing test also becomes a question of how to relate to each other. that for me was the release surprising verdict. all the answers that i got was looking at these things, they all came back and give me something about how to talk to people. so, to be a computer is the latest in this longstanding history of thinking about who we are and what makes this
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different. it's also this really radical shift in the question where our reference point has totally changed. and so the computer is not only shedding light on the edge of the age-old questions but to some extent it is subtly changing the answers. it has corrected some longstanding years. talking about a guy, descartes, and aristotle. what i think is a really welcome way. and, you know, it has given us these fascinating verdicts. aiken land planes before i can ride bikes. translate you in minutes before it can be shown a photograph of an object and tell you what it is. so i think artificial intelligence and the turing test specifically is not just a pat on the back and how impressive we are and that there is all
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this on some complexity, which i think is part of the important message. at the same time it is not merely a pat on the back. it is this call to action that we should not only celebrate but actually actively pursue these things. that is part of what i think the beauty of these programs is. you know, the existence of spam forces me to be myself in order for you to click the link to i'm sending you. it is not been merely a question of etiquette or style but now part of online security tax likeness of. and, you know, i think more generally it is just as fascinating process where we create these systems in our own image but they -- there is always this kapor the approximation ends and the real thing begins. so that always has something new to teach us about who we are. i'll stop there and take some questions from you guys.
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[applause] >> i haven't read the book yet, but am curious, as you were driven to research this book, beyond curiosity and the fascinating system and trial, were you looking to rea still some hope in the context of an otherwise hd wells computers are taking over our lives story? >> yes. >> well, i think traditionally the narrative of the day i is seen as this very dehumanizing
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meredith. and so when you look at the portrayal of a i in movies you get something that basically runs like computers are going to sleigh as all with machine guns, black up this guy, still less in a hyperbaric chambers and siphon our body heat forever. and, i mean, if this happens then i will obviously feel very foolish. i feel a little more san about a i than that. you know, i think in the context of the turing test, if you look at generally the way these contests are one, ibm and their deep blue computer class against though world human chess grand master several times until the computer one and there were like, okay, good. your dad. he was like, now, rematch. there were like, sorry, no.
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there seems to be the prevailing attitude that once humans get beat not something we don't need to contested ever again. the same thing just happened with jeopardy when i really want to see is the ibm jeopardy supercomputer, not so much verses jennings, but verses the show's writers were they give the riders a vengeance match to create much more tricky questions with the dancer research. and so i think the same thing is true of the turing test. the first year that the loebner prize is awarded, he's done. pulls the funding. but to my mind that is actually a very exciting time where we are sort of knocked to the canvas conversationally and have this opportunity to do this really human thing which is to pick ourselves back up and figure out how to adapt and
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improvement the putter. the beautiful thing is that it is being better of life. so i sort of look forward to that. >> argue looking for to the time when you can be one of the judge's? >> it would be nice to be one of the judges. you don't have the existential anxiety of having to -- having your him ahead in doubt. so, yes. i think that would be a kick to come back and try to figure out what the strategy would look like from the opposite side. >> presumably each one of these computers is submitted by a respected research inductee of some time. there must be at least one that is the least human program. >> yes. >> could you talk of a bit about if there are any sort of -- are they picking bad strategy is to try to fool the judge's?
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are there things in common that make the programs bad? >> i can tell you for example that with these thoughts, the one i'm most frequently offered to is clever bought. this simple giant, you know, masses of different conversations. one of the problems that happens when you are indexing tens of millions of conversations is that it takes a while. not all conversations make sense when it takes several seconds for the other person to say in a big. and so that becomes another way of trying to trip up the computers. tonight this conversation that is less like a strict you end date deposition style give me the right answer and i will wait until you do. more of the kind of repartee
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sort of quick witted style conversation where if the computer got to reach back for your the blogs of 10 million conversations just to be like, could one. then you do start to detect that, yeah, maybe no one is home back there. >> wager against at what hear the computers will evaluate computers versus human speech? twenty-five or 30. >> right. you mean the computers themselves will actually judds the test. >> when will they be a more accurate judge of their own intelligence? >> well, that is a good question. in fact, i would say several years ago. basically computer-run turing test are complete standard part of it and that security. most of us who have tried to
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enter a block, something have gone up against the strange window that says, tell me what this wittily word is. that is known as what is called a captain which is an acronym for completely automated public turing test of authenticity. yap. you get the gist of it. and basically on the internet we have to do so many that we can't scale up to that kind of level. we use computers offer to decide whether you are computer software. it is this very strange spring. i think we are starting to a -- ibm, it would make me nervous to get to a point where just to enter into a block post i would have to go into a fully fledged
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five minute long turing test. but it is starting to happen. it happened today. i was planning an online video game. one of the server advance came on and was like, can i just talked to you for a second? of want to make sure you are the script. okay. it occurred to me, this is merely the tip of the turing test iceberg. in several years time will you have to get growth, and you know, every time you sign and? i don't know. you will see. >> can you talk a little bit about how computers don't have this problem? can you expand? >> yeah. but i think in many ways what has been pretty healthy for the discipline of philosophy about a
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i is that it is actually bringing the body back into the conversation. if you look at, you know, these -- this sort of old school guide like plato and aristotle and up to descartes, you know, they have to write off animals because they have these ideological reasons that they need to discount everything animals can do. that basically amounts to discounting everything remotely bodily about human experience. what you are left with is something like, you know, algebra. and i think intuitively that is not fully satisfying about what the human experience is all about. and so i think it is useful to then encounter a system like the ibm watson machine which if it were a person it would have read every book and every issue of
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the new york times ever. it ahead the tiny cabin in which it has done all that reading. you can ask it something like, in which year was this to coronated. it knows all of that. if you say, okay. you are looking at the wall and you look down. now what to you see? it's like, i don't know. i've never looked at in a thing. and so i think there is something really help the bulb that a robber in the body back in. these sorts of things we don't think of motor skills as cognitively. it is really hard to create a robot that can walk on two legs. the site where has two computers and it. that promote -- that makes me very bad about myself. i can stand here. it doesn't impress any of you
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guys. >> what you think is going to happen when they went people still think it is a haunt of metal, not thinking. >> i generally try to dodge the i don't know that i can get away with that. i think that if we get to a point where for all intents and purposes machine version of intelligence operates the way that normal intelligence is, we are still left with the thing that makes us different from each other which is that we are a product of these individual experiences that we had. support of what it means to be humid is to be human.
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be the product of a very specific life experience that everything you know is rooted in something that happened to you. everything you don't know is rooted in things you don't didn't happen to you. you know, we turn to something like what appeal for information that is mutually verifiable would you say to the person he went to watch the movie with is not who is in that? what was the critical reception? he say, what did you think of that? how did what you saw accord with your background and idiosyncratic life history? so, we are still left, i think, with that difference which seems to be part a product of want and still a ultimately a life affirming one.
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>> what chance do you think a guy has an integrating? thinking. >> yes. >> remembering. predicting ways. and they are relative. >> yes. defining emotion rigorously is another thing that i've tried to not do. in terms of this question of thinking versus feeling. if i can send a separate emotion from feeling something, one of my friends is a doctor. if you're diagnosing someone for being sick you have a bunch of criteria. what is your heart reply? what is the temperature like? what is your blood cell count? they had a patient comment.
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they were like, well, this guy is totally sick. let's check amount. temperature normal, heart rate normal, but level count normal. there was something about the guy that was off. he know, that kind of distinction stars to get to the point where thinking blurs into feeling. i have not made a conscious decision based on of flow chart of factors, but i have just, you know, similar to all of the stated end, but this once it is actually the least sophisticated even though i can articulate to you. and basically, you know, with one of the big obstacles but there were starting to roll up these programs that could make these logical flow charts are to things that we can do, there was this really bullish attitude. we will be done with this in
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five years. needless to say that did not happen, precisely because we found out it was really hard to do the sorts of things. how did you tell a computer when a guy looks off? how do you tell a computer when it is encountering someone that it knows? what was the process that you went through to recognize? you don't know. so you can't repeat it. and that has been this whole sort of other paradigm shift. we have time for one more. >> question. literature or music. >> oh, you mean like can you compose a piece and then try to determine whether the piece was composed. yes. this has been -- in some sense
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there has been this very uncomfortable retreat being made by people interested in which demands of human behavior are impossible to break into the machines. one of the most famous critics is a guide named douglas hofstadter. computers will never be good at chest because chess requires is intrinsically human qualities like fear and courage in the sense of danger that didn't happen. the york times asked some for his opinion. he said, my god. i used to think that is required thought. computers will never be able to compose music. indeed to have a heart compassion, and so i don't know. i think the jury is still out, but at the same time even if you
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get to the point where to compositions are indistinguishable, the fact that -- i mean, this is sort of an argument people make. two members that are compositional it the same, with one came from a sustainable practice. it feels better to eat that one even though it is the same at the molecular level. it would still, i think, please me more to listen to assange billing that someone was moved to write it and that i could feel that i was making some sort of connection to the composer rather than thinking that the piece was just sort of a set of ratios that had been programmed. so in some ways perhaps the most intrinsically human quality of art is not in a particular sophistication of complicate -- composition first -- person.
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that, to me, is still looking. right. [applause] >> your watching book tv on c-span2, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> who was allan sullivan? >> one of the most notorious counterfeiters and colonial america. he can to this country from ireland, an inventor servant, and the ends up in boston in 1749 as a silversmith. begins to counterfeit colonial massachusetts notes. over the next five or 6 yards he builds a hughes intercolonial network that's expands from ryland, new hampshire. >> how easy was it to counterfeit at that time?
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>> well, the printing quality of the bill is fairly primitive by our standards. it did require tremendous skills as an engraver. one of the things you see, most counterpressures are former silversmiths. it takes tremendous physical dexterity to engrave a copperplate and rivers. that is what is required. >> how much -- first of all, was there a national currency? or the 13 different types of currency? >> fifteen types. after the revolution it becomes even more confusing. private banks all across the country but in their own notes. hundreds and then later thousands. the peak is more than ten thousands. sickening all over the country. how did that system work? if somebody live in massachusetts at the time and wanted to go to a store or
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mercantile it is really so confusing. this was the biggest discovery for me. just to think of it from the ground you. you could show up and present one of 10,000 different types of money. there were ways to manage it. one of the things that happens, they have this thing called the bank that reporter. you can look up twice a week in the mail in a little magazine the differing values of different notes and see which are counterfeit. certain counterfeit detectors. if this stroke is a little 210. >> so, was it a common everyday thing to have money passed? >> extremely komen. at the one statistic we have, at the height of counterfeiting around the time of the civil war your between at third and a half of all speculation as words.
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>> how did you find the story of owen sullivan and a couple of other counterfeiter is? >> well, i started researching the book during the recent financial crisis. that was my and your point. i was reading a lot about the history of current american history. i was struck by the powerful parallels between the past and present. these three characters seemed like excellent windows and to our very tumultuous financial path. >> did owen sullivan make a lot of money? >> he certainly did. probably in the vicinity of hundreds of thousands of pounds. especially if he engraves the plate, his accomplices can use it long after he leaves. it's not just what he prints, but is tremendously this piece network of accomplices. >> money was localized. >> it was.
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you could have different types of currency in different communities. different and colonial. different colonial currencies. in massachusetts. >> so if somebody was traveling from philadelphia to new york city what would they bring with them? >> it depends. in the early republic. what you would want to do is buy what was considered east of paper. it's printed by a very reputable banks in the east. if you were traveling to the west you will see quite a bit of what is called western paper which was passed at a discount. shaved a certain percentage based on the reputation of the bank that issued it. you would want to have the strongest paper currency with you. then you would be able to buy up cheap paper at a discount. >> did the current battle congresses or the constitutional convention addressed the issue
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of money? >> the comment of congress gets into a lot of trouble. they start printing their own paper currency. they need money. there is no option for them. isolated by a british blockade. they cannot tax the state. this type printing illegal tender currency which becomes easily inflationary. almost since the revolutionary effort. >> no addressing of the thousands of different types of currency? >> what happens is when they sit down to write the constitution the memory of all those colonial currencies and more visibly, none of america's leading men advocate paper money. the constitution explicitly prohibits states from printing their own paper currency. >> well, he does very well and that is tracked down by a posse of vigilantes'.
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executed in 1756 in new york. >> who were the vigilantes'? >> that is the thing. law enforcement is very primitive. if you want someone who is willing to do what it takes and travel across many jurisdictions to find a counterfeiter you need to pay him pretty well. there is a man named peter from connecticut who was paid by the connecticut colony legislature to track down so and then bring him to justice. >> you profile to other counterfeiters. one was david lewis. >> born in the allegheny backcountry. the counterfeiting trade in the moneymaking enclaves along the border between canada and the net is states. he returns justin time in 1814 when the state charters a bunch of new banks.
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chartered in the first few decades, an explosion of banks and bank notes. it really opens up the opportunity for counterfeiters. so this is perfectly poised to take a vantage. >> samuel upham. >> upham. >> he is probably my favorite of the three this because he is the least conventional. when the civil war, sent during 1862 he starts to print confederate currency which he sees reproduced on the cover of the philadelphia inquirer. he sells these notes from his shop. he doesn't call them counterfeits. he calls them facsimiles. his idea is they will be souvenirs. it was credible because people bobbly thought that the rebellion would be crushed fairly quickly. as the world goes on he expands
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his enterprise to become a major counterfeiting operation. >> did he get caught or punished? >> he is never punished. the south kayten. his name appears in the town of richmond is peppers. counterfeit in the currency of a government is emphatically not recognized. there is endless speculation and conspiracy theories. he may have received funding. there is really no evidence either way. they probably test let it happen. >> at what point did this country get to a single currency? >> well, it happens during the civil war. there is a number of remarkable and unprecedented steps that the federal government takes in the 1860's which really would not have been politically possible without the civil war. before the board, as we said, more than 10,000 types of currency. after the were the only paper money i

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